Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Think like a kid to change the world

If you're looking for real innovation, game changers, breakthroughs, inventions, then stay away from experts.

That sounds contrary to common sense, but after listening to a recent program on CBC's The Current, I found that advice pretty convincing.

One example cited is the Fosbury Flop, a style of high jumping originated by 1968 Olympics gold medal winner and record-setter Dick Fosbury. It was completely different from the Straddle and the Western Roll that were accepted practice.

Resisted by accomplished high jumpers at the time, it became the dominant style because it works so much better than other approaches. But this wasn't a top athlete's refinement to pile up a few more wins. Fosbury came up with it as a frustrated, mediocre, young high school athlete who was just looking for a way to avoid losing so often at local meets.

Another example is Nicole Rycroft's work to save 800 year old trees from clearcutting. Appalled that most of Canada's, and the world's, publishing industry prints on paper made from old growth trees, she didn't head out to logging sites to protest with placards and threats of boycotts.

With no business or environmental movement background, she recognized that increasing the demand for recycled paper was the secret to getting its price down to a level that is competitive with the old growth stuff. So she approached the publishers and the authors. She got Raincoast Books on board. She got Alice Munro to demand that McLelland and Stewart publish her new book on recycled paper. Other publishers followed. She got J.K. Rowling's endorsement for the Canadian edition of the fifth Harry Potter book.

Long story short, 700 Canadian publishers of books, magazines, and newspapers now want to be seen as "green," and Nicole's organization, Canopy, is helping them move to recycled paper --- a shift in the supply chain of an entire industry.

Big leaps get made this way --- Microsoft and Apple both began in the minds of teenagers who were far removed from a computer industry focused on mainframes and blind to the potential of personal computers.

Experts tend to resist new ideas because they have made a large investment of time and money in becoming good at what they do. They're comfortable, and comfortable people aren't likely to shake things up.

In fact, they want to preserve the status quo because they've figured out how to make it work for them, and their continued prosperity depends upon ensuring that things don't change. Conversely, big new ideas often come from people who don't know any better. They don't know that their concepts won't work, so they plunge right in and do it.

Bottom line, if you're looking for innovation, try to think like a kid.           

No comments:

Post a Comment